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Sometimes we take plants for granted and forget about the great features they bring to the landscape. An example is parsley-leaved hawthorn.
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My office is at Hinds Community College, and this school is a virtual office. Every tree and plant looks like it’s part of the plan, and the winter colors from the plants that produce fruit are true in the design.
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For more than 12 years now, I have admired the chicken-out hawthorns in school. Botanically speaking, they are Crataegus marshallii, at least according to most users and US Department of Agriculture Web sites. Just to keep us on our toes, it may have changed to Crataegus apifolia.
The name tells you that the leaves look like parsley – not the curly kind, but the modern version. In the spring, this member of the rose family rises with a blanket of snowy white flowers with long, delicate-like stamens topped by red anthers.
Let me just say that they are pretty doggone, and that’s only in the spring. I dare you to find a small tree with more red fruits in the fall and winter than the parsley-leaved hawthorn. They are born by the thousands and make the trees visible from a distance like the sun showing off their brilliant colors.
The birds eat the fruit, but I have also noticed that every tree has branches that are perfect for nesting birds. It’s like a one-stop shop for birds – home and grocery store.
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The fruit-leaved hawthorn is native from Texas to Florida and as far north as Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia, with most records indicating that it is cold-hardy from zone 4 or 5 to 9.
The trees have good structure, usually with two or three trunks that go out in different places. Older trees have extensive exfoliating bark. They can reach 25 feet tall and 25 feet wide, but most I see are closer to 15 feet tall and not that wide.
It exists in a variety of soils, from acid to slightly alkaline and from well-drained to the slightly boggy side. If you can find one of the nurseries that are specialized in local people, choose a place to plant with sunlight or morning sun and evening shade and fertile, well- drained soil. This will give you the necessary structure of the image.
Also know that their water needs, once established, are considered medium-low. It is better to think about the amount of rain we have every year.
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While they can certainly stand alone, an area with a background of evergreen plants makes the show even better. Perhaps it is one of those situations where opposites attract because the opposite of red is green.
For many years I have been sharing with you wonderful plants from all over the world. This time, however, it is one that we drive by all the time and take for granted. It’s time for us to put some natives back into our landscape, and parsley-leaved hawthorn is one to consider.